With stormy weather on the horizon for the next few days, the country’s water
basins have crept to promising levels already this rainy winter – the Kinneret
now lacking less than 2 meters of water from full capacity.
morning, the Kinneret reached 210.78 meters below sea level, just 1.98 meters
from the “upper red line,” or the line that indicates full capacity, data from
the Water Authority’s Hydrological Services said. This represented a rise of 2
centimeters from the previous morning’s readings, when the lake lacked 2 meters
exactly following a stormy Saturday night.
During the nearly weeklong storm that
pounded Israel earlier this month, the Kinneret rose 73 centimeters alone, an
increase that was unparalleled for this period of time in two decades, the Water
Authority said at the time. All in all this January, the basin has risen 1.1
meters, and during the entire winter season thus far – 1.65 meters, Water
Authority spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. It is likely
that the Kinneret level will peak this season at about half a meter below the
upper red line, according to Schor.
“That’s not only because of the
rain,” he said. “That’s because the change in policy of the Water Authority. We
are pumping from Kinneret less than half of the average pump than we had
previously done. The policy is to try to revive the natural sources of
The Water Authority has been able to reduce the amount of water
being pumped out of the Kinneret by the National Water Carrier due to the
significantly increased amounts of desalinated and treated wastewater being
employed all over the country. Prof. Eran Feitelson, of the Geography Department
at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, likewise stressed that the increased
desalination occurring in Israel has allowed the Water Authority to keep much
more freshwater in the Kinneret basin.
Going forward, it is crucial to continue
to conserve water to recharge the aquifers as well as expanding the capacity of
existing desalination facilities, Feitelson explained. Calling the forecasts for
another deluge of rain “just wonderful,” Israel director of Friends of the Earth
Middle East (FOEME) Gidon Bromberg said that he hoped for snow as well in this
week’s storm. "With more snow it means we will have water for weeks as that snow
melts," he said.
With the welcome rising levels of Kinneret basin, the
country could benefit from releasing some of that added freshwater to
rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River, once the river’s sewage is cleaned,
Bromberg said, citing a new FOEME roadmap prepared in conjunction with Dutch
consultancy firm DHV. "With the dramatic reduction in pumping from the Sea of
Galilee, not only in this great year of rain, but even in average years of rain,
the Sea of Galilee is likely to be a very healthy lake with high potential for
overflow to supply to the Lower Jordan River," Bromberg said.
roadmap calls for managing flow to the Lower Jordan River in a constant matter,
with the water supply eventually reaching the Dead Sea, he explained.
think it’s time for the public to understand that the water economy is capable
of releasing water on a monthly basis, to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan and
benefit from a whole lot of tourism gains," Bromberg said. While Israel should
be returning 210 million cubic meters per year from the Kinneret to the Jordan
River, the government at the moment has only pledged to release 30 million cubic
meters annually – and this only after the sewage is removed, he added. As far as
resuming flow to the Jordan River goes, however, Feitelson said that the rising
quantities in the Kinneret are still insufficient to serve this purpose. “The
whole point of the Kinneret rising was not to have water flowing out," he
Rehabilitating the Jordan River needs to occur through means other
than freshwater, as the country’s aquifers in total still lack more than 1
billion cubic meters of natural water, Schor explained.
“We can’t afford
to waste it,” Schor said. “But we are giving much more freshwater altogether to
nature and to agriculture, and by recovering the natural sources you recover
automatically all the flow of the springs and the rivers.”
agreed that if such a Kinneret rise only occurs once in a decade then it would
be insignificant, sustainable management of water resources can prevent this
from occurring and can allow for the release of water down the Jordan. No matter
what is done with the Kinneret water, however, all of the experts agreed that
people cannot be complacent about water conservation simply because of this good
winter. “We've made that mistake already in the past it doesn't mean we should
do it again," Feitelson said. "It doesn't mean we can splurge." Stressing that
the country still needs a few more rainy events this season, Feitelson noted
that “just because it was a good January doesn’t mean it will be a good February
and March and so on.”
“Altogether we should continue treating water as a
source of life and something that doesn’t come naturally enough in this area,”
Demand for water in Israel is always higher than what the
country will receive by rain, and expensive desalination and water recycling
facilities therefore continue to play a crucial role, he explained.
must always treat water in this area as an expensive source and we must keep an
eye on it,” Schor said.
An incoming storm will likely bring showers and
thunderstorms all over the country on Monday night, with scattered light showers
from the North to the northern Negev continuing through Tuesday – accompanied by
a slight temperature drop, according to the Israel Meteorological Service.
Occasional rainfall will likely dampen the country's North and its coastal
region with possible isolated thunderstorms throughout the day on Wednesday,
with rain strengthening in the evening and bringing snow over Mount Hermon, the
IMS said. On Thursday, the IMS forecasted frequent showers in most of Israel
accompanied by strong winds and scattered storms, with a risk of flash floods in
the East and the South. As temperatures drop to colder than typical all around
the country, the Hermon will likely continue to receive snow, IMS data reported.